Nine cases of septic bursitis are presented, and the literature on the subject comprehensively reviewed, with an emphasis on the clinical manifestations of septic bursitis in various anatomic locations. Physical activities associated with increased susceptibility to septic bursitis and systemic conditions that increase the severity of septic bursitis are catalogued. Analysis of the microbiology of cases reported in the literature demonstrates that greater than 80% of cases of septic bursitis are caused by Staphylococcus aureus and other gram-positive organisms. However, a wide variety of gram-negative microorganisms, fungi, and other infectious agents have been reported to cause septic bursitis and may lead to complications in diagnosis and treatment. The nine cases reported here demonstrate the potential severity of septic bursitis and emphasize that significant systemic complications may result from this common musculoskeletal infection. Indications for hospitalization and/or intravenous antibiotic therapy for septic bursitis include the presence of fulminant local infection, evidence for systemic toxicity, or infection in an immunocompromised patient. Patients who fail to respond to intravenous antibiotics and percutaneous aspiration of the bursa may require surgical drainage or bursectomy by one of several methods that have been proposed. There is some recent evidence that intrabursal corticosteroid injection for therapy of nonseptic subcutaneous bursitis may be more effective than systemic antiinflammatory medication or simple bursa aspiration.